Acculturation, the extent to which immigrants adapt to their new culture, can cause stresses for those in the U.S. from different cultures or those who are born to parents from other countries, and teen-agers under such stresses may become involved in risky behaviors such as smoking. Measuring acculturation is important to understanding stresses and the risky behaviors associated with them, as well as eventually designing programs to reduce the health risks.
But most population surveys and related research tools are designed for adults from a single culture, so researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC have developed a new measure just for adolescents. They report the measure in the August issue of the Journal of Early Adolescence.
The new Acculturation, Habits, and Interests Multicultural Scale for Adolescents (AHIMSA) is brief, age-appropriate, relevant to a variety of cultures and can assess multiple components of acculturation. The study is part of a wider cross-disciplinary effort to understand and prevent health-risk behaviors among multicultural adolescents. The National Cancer Institute/National Institute on Drug Abuse Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center funded the research.
"Most research on acculturation has focused on adults, but in the U.S., and especially in Los Angeles, we have a huge population of first- and second-generation kids. They're influenced by their parents' culture, the U.S. culture and third, fourth and fifth cultures that their neighbors and friends may belong to. We thought it was important to develop an acculturation measure specifically for them," says Jennifer B. Unger, Ph.D., research assistant professor of preventive medicine and lead author.
Contact: Jeff Baskin
University of Southern California